Breeders' Cup Distaff: Cotillion without top stars but rich nonetheless
The $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff is still six weeks away, but the $1 million Cotillion Stakes at Parx – restricted to 3-year-old fillies – will be run on Saturday.
Whether the Cotillion will have any Breeders’ Cup influence remains to be seen. Neither of the country’s top 3-year-old fillies – Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar and Oaks runner-up Beholder – will run in the Cotillion.
Princess of Sylmar will run Sept. 28 in the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont Park, according to trainer Todd Pletcher. Her status for the BC Distaff is not confirmed.
Princess of Sylmar will face a formidable rival in the Beldame. That race is expected to be the final BC prep for Royal Delta, the early favorite for the Distaff. The BC Classic has not been ruled out for Royal Delta.
Meanwhile, California-based Beholder will stay home. Her first start against older fillies and mares is Sept. 28 in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita. Trainer Richard Mandella has good reason to stay home to face older rather than ship for the Cotillion.
“I don’t want to travel. I don’t want to go confusing her now,” Mandella said. “That may be a little paranoid on my part, but shipping any horse this close to the Breeders’ Cup does not make sense.”
At least, it makes no sense for Beholder.
“The Breeders’ Cup is our main goal,” Mandella said. “If I had a choice, I would run her here [at Santa Anita], against 3-year-olds.”
The Santa Anita fall stakes program does not include a main-track stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Beholder won the Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies in her recent comeback at Del Mar, and had her first work since on Saturday morning. Beholder worked five furlongs in 1:02. Mandella will turn it up a notch for her next work.
Meanwhile, undefeated California-based Sweet Lulu will ship to the Cotillion. She is unconfirmed for the Breeders’ Cup, and has two choices if she does run – the Distaff, and the Filly and Mare Sprint.
Sweet Lulu won the Test Stakes at Saratoga in her most recent start Aug. 24. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was asked if there is a downside to shipping across the country and back twice in less than two months.
“In this case, probably not,” Hollendorfer said. “The last ship did not take anything out of her, in our opinion. For the purse, you have to go if you have a horse that qualifies.
“Then, we’ll make a decision about the Breeders’ Cup afterward.”
Sweet Lulu was entered Monday for the Cotillion and drew post 7. Close Hatches, the probable favorite, drew post 9.
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